Well, we can come to understand a little more of God by looking at earthly fathers, real ones. An earthly father has the need of wisdom. I do not mean by that mere knowledge, but the right use of knowledge, which is wisdom. An earthly father has the need of balancing his desire for the comfort and welfare of his child over and against his need to lead his child into a worthy self-reliance. I sat but recently with a lad whose father tried to substitute things for attention and time. His son’s life is a study in failure, and the father’s heart is in candidacy for heartbreak.
God is a better father than our earthly fathers, for he knows how to mix gift with effort. He is, as an ancient seer saw, like an eagle who casts the young eaglet forth that in the desperation of falling it might learn to fly. We are born to fly on wings of prayer and faith, but we only learn this when circumstances come pushing us from secure ease to dangerous and dizzying altitudes. As we fall, we instinctively call on our powers to pray and believe and, therefore, to conquer. God mixes enough security with enough risk to make us true sons and daughters of whom he can be proud. He gives us roses but surrounds them with thorns, sunshine but intersperses it with clouds. God gives us springtime, but the chill of winter is his gift also. He gives us the power to laugh but equips us likewise with the capacity to cry. God gives us food from the earth but sets the requirement of sweaty toil that we might eat partly out of our own sacrifice and effort. He gives us births in our families that cradles might gladden the family circle. But the same God gives us the death angel, that the memory of graves might make us see life as a high and swift and solemn transaction. “Sometimes on the mountain where the sun shines so bright, sometimes in the valley in the darkest of night, God leads his dear children along,” we sing sometimes in our church.